Madagascar is facing its worst drought in a decade, the World Food Program said Tuesday.

Jeanluc Siblot, the UN agency’s emergency coordinator in Madagascar, said the 2020 harvest had been the worst for five years.

The agency has been delivering food parcels to villagers in the south of the island.

The crisis follows three straight years of drought as well as a deep recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When I can’t go begging in the neighboring village, we have to dig under this sand without being sure we’ll find anything," said Ikemba, a resident of Ambovombe District, as she described her daily search for food.

"When we don’t find anything under the sand, we drink seawater. It is bad for our health, but we have no choice," she continued.

Malnutrition rates in the region have risen, forcing children to beg so they can help their families buy food supplies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the hardship, causing seasonal employment to dry up.

The World Food Program is currently supporting 500,000 people without food supplies in Madagascar’s nine southern districts.
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